Navigating business growth isn't simple. You can't simply pick a destination and follow your compass from A to B. There will always be changing conditions and lurking dangers. Your best chance of success? Have everyone on board working as a team; fully aligned in their purpose and aware of the threats.
Contrary to what many people think, safely and successfully navigating business growth cannot solely fall upon the head of a single leader. A captain can lead by example and make final decisions, but he/she cannot navigate the journey alone. Instead, the entire team needs to be working collectively to so that navigation of business growth becomes a collective instinct.
3 ways to align your team for optimum business growth
There are three essential elements for enabling and aligning teams within business, which are crucial during a period of growth:
All three of these can collectively help you anticipate market shifts, react quickly to competitive threats, and efficiently deliver innovative systems.
#1 - Destination
Destination is critical. To make steady progress in a chaotic world, your organization must have a grand goal in clear view.
Destinations should be a statement of intent, rather than a precise definition of the end result. Conditions will change and you can't know the exact nature of your destination before you depart. It's better to head for “find cool spices and get rich” (intent), rather than “get to longitude X and latitude Y” (precise definition). This will provide you with purpose. It'll encourage innovation and adaptation along the way.
Also, the destination needs to be understood by everyone. It needs to be simple, clear, and all encompassing. That way, everyone on the team is equipped to make the decisions relating to their own day-to-day tasks. You'll get to your destination in a safer, faster way, and it'll help you spot dangers along the way.
Things to consider:
- What's your destination?
- Does everyone understand it?
- If not, how do you know where you're going?
#2 - Connectedness
Connectedness is all about teamwork. It has several important elements:
- Culture: A healthy culture provides a vibrant sense of who you are as an extended team as you strive towards your destination together. (Here’s 7 simple ways to build a culture of teamwork in the workplace.)
- Values: Values provide a clear understanding of how individuals should act as part of the team. What are you prepared to do (and not do) to get to your destination?
- Structure: This provides clarity on who's doing what. Who's on which teams? What are those teams trying to accomplish? How do they fit together into the greater quest? Once this clarity has been provided, individuals are enabled to do their own local navigation. They can spot the “white space” between their role and those surrounding them.
- Communication: All of this – destination, culture, values, and organizational structure – needs to be clearly communicated in real time. This includes frequent reports of progress and successes along the way.
Things to consider:
- Do you feel connected to teams that are heading to the same destination as you?
- If not, why?
- What can you do to better connect and align?
#3 - Awareness
Awareness is each individual watching internally and externally for signs of progress, evolving trends, and looming threats that are relevant to your path to the destination.
Most companies do a decent job of external awareness. They keep a good eye on market trends and competitive activities. There are also a lot of data sources and monitoring tools to help them do this.
Maintaining an internal awareness is often harder. Is there a rumor circulating that's affecting employee productivity? Are there teams that have a different destination in mind? Are there innovative ideas that are not being heard? It's important to take the pulse of your organization and react accordingly.
Internal awareness is also about being able to quickly muster the best resources to deal with situations along the way. Do you know where expertise and knowledge lie? Do you know which teams have capacity to immediately help?
A pet peeve of mine is how project managers constantly form project teams with the same people on them. To me this screams of poor internal awareness and teamwork. Why are they not searching the organization for the best resources for the job at hand? Why are they not giving new employees a better chance to learn and demonstrate their skills? Looking at your organization with fresh eyes and considering all the options available will pull you out of a rut and potentially deliver new and better results.
Things to consider:
- Are you aware of internal needs and do you react to them appropriately?
- Do you know where specific skills and knowledge reside in your organization?
- What can you do to improve this?
Organizations with effective teams of navigators can spot opportunities, potential dangers, and emerging changes. With more sets of eyes on the prize, they're able to see around corners in a way that fragmented organizations cannot. If you feel like your teams aren't connecting the dots and making sense of them, try aligning them with a sense of destination, connectedness, and awareness.